Can I eat cheese while pregnant?

by Feb 10, 2020Blog

 

Pregnancy is a challenging time in terms of knowing what you can and cannot eat. There are so many rules and recommendations that it’s hard to know what’s true and myth. One of the foods I am commonly asked about is cheese and whether or not it is safe to eat while pregnant. So, if you’re a cheese lover like me, and are asking yourself ‘can I eat cheese while pregnant?’ stay tuned to find out!

Can I eat cheese during pregnancy?

When it comes to eating cheese during pregnancy, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.

Let’s start with the good.

There are some cheeses that are perfectly safe to consume during pregnancy (woohoo!). Hard cheeses are the safer option to consume during pregnancy and can even help you reach your daily calcium goals. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming two and a half serves of dairy per day for pregnant women, with 40g of hard cheese equating to one serve of dairy.

Hard cheese varieties that are safe during pregnancy include:

  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Gouda
  • Edam
  • Swiss
  • Gruyere
  • Halloumi
  • Manchego
  • Stilton

These types of cheese are considered safe because they have a low moisture content and therefore don’t provide adequate conditions for harmful bacteria, like listeria, to grow in.

Which brings me to the bad news.

Unfortunately, you will need to avoid some types of cheese during your pregnancy. Soft cheeses, whilst delicious, can be a carrier of nasty bacteria. Soft cheeses have a higher moister content which means they can be an ideal environment for bacteria, like listeria, to grow and therefore are recommended to avoid during pregnancy.

Soft cheese varieties that should be avoided during pregnancy include:

  • Feta
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Ricotta
  • Goat’s and sheep’s cheeses
  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Blue-veined cheeses such as Danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort.

There is one exception to the rule…

You can safely consume the soft and blue-veined cheeses I just mentioned IF they are cooked at a temperature above 65°C and eaten when hot. The high heat helps kill any bacteria meaning the risk of listeria infection is reduced.

So, the bottom line is…

Cheese is a great source of calcium which is an important nutrient for maintaining your muscle and bone strength during pregnancy and also vital for the development of your baby’s muscles and bones. Therefore, I don’t recommend completely cutting out cheese from your diet during pregnancy, but rather take some extra caution when it comes to which varieties you consume, your portion sizes and the cooking temperatures.

While the risk of listeria is very low if you follow good food hygiene practices, doing everything you can to avoid it is critical to your baby’s health. So if you are concerned about listeria risk during your pregnancy and would like some more information and tips on how to avoid infection, make sure you check out my YouTube clip on ‘how to avoid listeria during pregnancy’.

For more help with your pregnancy diet, be sure to download my free pregnancy meal plan at www.melaniemcgrice.com/pregnancy.

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